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IT'S MUELLER TIME!!!

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LOL, Axios has a copy of the alleged subpoena, but won’t publish it, or tell us who it’s on.  And Mueller “could stumble onto goodies”.

Axios.  ROFL

More bullshit fabrications to keep the sheep excited. 

The euphoria crash is going to be such a great thing to watch when nothing happens.  

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22 minutes ago, Beef said:

LOL, Axios has a copy of the alleged subpoena, but won’t publish it, or tell us who it’s on.  And Mueller “could stumble onto goodies”.

Axios.  ROFL

More bullshit fabrications to keep the sheep excited. 

The euphoria crash is going to be such a great thing to watch when nothing happens.  

xD

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Rivals Question:

How long would it take JB to rip Mueller's pants off and attach himself to his wiener?

  • 10 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 20 seconds

 

Alex, I'm gonna have to go with 10 seconds.

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9 minutes ago, SaintRay said:

Rivals Question:

How long would it take JB to rip Mueller's pants off and attach himself to his wiener?

  • 10 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 20 seconds

 

Alex, I'm gonna have to go with 10 seconds.

Hell, he would eat Moolers ass for an indictment....probably eat his shit too.....

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On 3/2/2018 at 11:18 AM, SaintRay said:

Link that Trump is guilty of anything?

You just wait, Ray!

You'll see!!!...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...jb fall flat on his face again. 

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Robert Mueller's Pace Measures Up With Best Prosecutors 'In Modern History'

Carrie Johnson
gettyimages-170442339mueller_slide-a5452

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on June 13, 2013, on Capitol Hill.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The man leading the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has been keeping busy.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been on the job for about nine months. But he has already charged 19 people with wrongdoing — and won guilty pleas from the president's former campaign vice chairman and his former national security adviser.

Scholars who focus on politically charged investigations that may lead into the White House have been taking note.

"Robert Mueller's pace in this investigation really is very similar to some of the best special prosecutors in modern history," said Ken Gormley, the president of Duquesne University and the author of two books on special prosecutors.

These investigations carry special burdens: to move forward quietly, with no leaks, and quickly, to prove guilt or innocence.

"The whole point of appointing an independent counsel in these kind of instances is to deal with the fact that there's a cloud over the highest levels of the executive branch and to restore public confidence, one way or the other," Gormley said.

For many people, the model prosecutor was Archibald Cox, who investigated Watergate for a little more than a year before he was fired.

"I'm not looking for a confrontation," Cox told reporters in 1973. "I've worried a good deal through my life about the problems of imposing too much strain upon our constitutional institutions and I'm certainly not out to get the president of the United States."

During his tenure, Cox developed evidence about obstruction of justice by President Richard Nixon. The prosecutor who replaced Cox built on that work, ultimately leading to Nixon's resignation.

Gormley said the current special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, is operating in that same mold.

But at the White House, President Trump and his lawyers have been pressing the Mueller team to move faster. So is another familiar figure: former Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr.

"The American people, I think, want to know, was there collusion," Starr told CNN last week. "Let's get that answered. That would be my sense, if I were at the Justice Department."

Starr spent five years and more than $40 million investigating President Bill Clinton. Critics say Starr took too long and wandered away from his original mission. He was far from the only independent counsel to come under attack as a "roving Frankenstein monster," Gormley said.

In the category of "no end," there was the investigation of Clinton's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros. In 1995, then-Attorney General Janet Reno asked for an independent counsel to determine whether Cisneros should face prosecution for providing false information about payments to a former mistress.

"I'm disappointed by that outcome but I'm hopeful that the investigation will be completed expeditiously," Cisneros told reporters at the time.

But any hope Cisneros had for a speedy resolution went bust. The independent counsel in his case, David Barrett, kept working even after the law authorizing his work expired. Cisneros pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was later pardoned by the president. Still, Barrett's work continued. The final report emerged in 2006, nearly 11 years after he took office.

Robert Mueller is a hard-driving former FBI director, not known for dallying in his work. He's already secured indictments against Russians for running an information warfare campaign aimed at the last presidential election.

And yet, Wake Forest University professor Katy Harriger said measuring Mueller's success will be a challenge.

"For some people, success will only be if somehow the president gets impeached," Harriger said. "And for other people, success is a complete exoneration."

Push away that cloud of politics, she said, and success may be a report or a set of conclusions that most people can believe.

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JB with another bulge in his pants this morning dreaming about Mueller.

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Has Anyone Seen Robert Mueller Lately?

He hasn’t been photographed since last summer, and it’s driving news outlets crazy.

The Industry

 

Robert Mueller and his entourage use a series of back hallways and stairwells to avoid journalists and the public at the U.S. Capitol on June 21, 2017.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Would it kill special counsel Robert Mueller to leave the Justice Department one of these days? We’re not asking that he walk a red carpet, pose in front of a step and repeat, or show up at that one pumpkin patch that celebrities always visit as a publicity stunt. Maybe he could just step out for 10 minutes and take a little stroll around the block?

Why are we clamoring for new Mueller pics like paparazzi stalking Jennifer Aniston? Because every time his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election makes news—which is a lot these days—sites like Slate must use the same photos of Mueller we’ve been using since this past summer, the last time a photo was taken of the special counsel. Our nation’s poor photo editors are stuck with a cache of boring, already-used shots of one of the most newsworthy figures of our political moment.

June 21, 2017, is the date attached to the most recent shots of Mueller in Getty Images, a photo service that Slate and many other news outlets subscribe to—eight long months ago. It’s the same date of the last Mueller photos available from the Associated Press and Reuters, too. “Well obviously, Mueller is very busy and doesn’t get out much because he’s busy investigating Trump and his cronies,” Slate designer Derreck Johnson told me. But “I hope he steps out for some coffee soon or makes a Target run.”

Daily Beast director of photography Sarah Rogers said she empathizes with this plight. “We’re all pulling from the same general pool of photos that are available, and it’s definitely limiting,” she said. “The majority of the wire photos of [Mueller] that are available are from 2009 to 2013, and they’re all of him testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Really, there’s nothing more boring visually than someone speaking at a podium.” To get around this, Rogers said the Daily Beast has been able to lean on its house illustration style, which uses collage and pop-artelements to remix existing photos of Mueller.

Rogers said the Daily Beast ran into a similar situation when Steve Bannon was in the news all the time but photos of him on the wires were still sparse: “He’s not the most photogenic guy as it is. It was tricky to art those stories after a while. We all kind of came to be relieved when he was out of the picture and we didn’t have to make new illustrations of his face.”

Jonathan Simon, deputy photo editor at Quartz, speculated that Mueller is probably staying away from cameras on purpose—a shrewd move as his investigation comes under increasing partisan criticism. “He probably does not want to be the face of all this.”

Simon added that the scope of the investigation also, luckily for his purposes, expands the pool of photos that can go along with the story. “As the investigation continues and there are more indictments and threads to follow, Mueller almost becomes beside the point,” he said. “You’re dealing with this extremely complex cast of characters and places. There’s a lot of people involved. There are many other ways to illustrate the story other than just a picture of the lead investigator.”

In addition to characters like Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos, “you have a lot of documents and websites that have been implicated or brought up in these investigations. Sometimes the most story-telling image is going to be a screenshot of a document,” Simon said.

Still, we’re counting on Mueller, and we can’t help wondering what he’s up to and how he’s looking these days. Is his hair a little grayer from the stress of laying down those indictments? Is he rocking a slightly different part, perhaps to mark a new phase of the investigation? This is vital information. Mr. Mueller, stand still for a moment, and say cheese.

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Sam Nunberg goes dark on Tuesday after his spectacular media meltdown

Sam Nunberg's interview tour is over for now.

Nunberg was booked to appear on CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday morning, but he did not show up for the interview. 

When an unknown person answered the phone at his home Tuesday morning, the person said Nunberg is done doing interviews. 

According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, ABC also pursued Nunberg for Tuesday's "Good Morning America." But the producers feared that he would bail, and sure enough, he stopped responding to messages on Tuesday morning. "He went dark," one of the sources said.

Nunberg's change in media strategy appears related to the change of heart that unfolded before a national audience during his media tour on Monday. 

The former Donald Trump campaign aide gave more than a dozen interviews on Monday in an extraordinary act of defiance of special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Related: Who is Sam Nunberg?

He started out by flaunting Mueller's subpoena and saying "let him arrest me." At one point, he even handed the subpoena paper to MSNBC anchor Ari Melber. He seemed to revel in the show he was starring in. 

"Jake, I'm definitely the first person to ever do this, right?" he asked CNN's Jake Tapper. 

Interviewer after interviewer emphasized that Nunberg could be facing serious legal jeopardy. They asked if he wanted to reconsider his position; asked if he'd consulted his lawyer; and asked about his family. 

Nunberg asked questions too -- almost as if he was seeking legal advice. In the 7 p.m. hour on Monday, he asked CNN's Erin Burnett, "Do you think Robert Mueller is going to send me to prison, Erin, for this?" She answered, "I don't know, but he certainly would be within his rights." 

Some of Nunberg's associates said they were worried about his state of mind. Burnett said at the end of the interview that she smelled alcohol on his breath. But he denied that he had been drinking. 

Paparazzi-style photographers were waiting for Nunberg outside CNN's New York bureau. He spoke with one of the camera crews and then continued talking with reporters by phone. But his tone changed. By the end of the day, Nunberg signaled that he will continue cooperating with Mueller, after all. 

The special counsel office had no comment. 

Nunberg's last interview of the day appeared to be with Olivia Nuzzi of New York magazine. He told her around midnight that "I'm gonna cooperate!" 

Regarding his TV tour, he said to Nuzzi, "Did I sound drunk? I think that I was just more of myself in these interviews than I've ever been. That's what I think it was." 

He took another call, then called Nuzzi back at 12:55 a.m., said he was happy that "I didn't get dumped by my lawyer today." 

On Tuesday morning, Nunberg did not answer calls to his cell phone. Callers were greeted by a message that said, "The voice mail belonging to Sam Nunberg is full." 

CNNMoney (New York) First published March 6, 2018: 10:49 AM ET

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Mueller is casting a wide net. We now know the target is Trump.

THE MORNING PLUM:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is now directly gunning for President Trump — and not just on one front. It appears that Mueller is investigating whether Trump himself committed misconduct or possible criminality on two fronts, and possibly more.

NBC News is now reporting that Mueller has sent a subpoena to an unnamed witness that appears to hint at just how wide a net Mueller has cast. NBC reports that the subpoena suggests Mueller is focused, among other things, on determining what Trump himself knew about Russian sabotage of the 2016 election as it was happening.

The subpoena demands a range of documents that involve Trump himself, in addition to nine of his top campaign advisers and associates. The documents solicited include emails, text messages, work papers and telephone logs dating back to November 2015, about four months after Trump declared his presidential candidacy.

This builds on NBC’s previous report that Mueller’s investigators are asking witnesses questions that indicate that Mueller is examining whether Trump knew Democratic emails had been hacked before that became public, and whether he was somehow involved in their “strategic release.” As NBC’s new report puts it:

The subpoena indicates that Mueller may be focused not just on what Trump campaign aides knew and when they knew it, but also on what Trump himself knew.

In a certain sense, it isn’t that surprising to learn that Mueller is focused on what Trump knew about Russia’s hacking of emails and interference in the election, and any potential conspiracy with them. Mueller is charged with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated” with Trump’s campaign, as well as any other matters that arise from that line of inquiry. This was inevitably going to include what Trump himself knew and when.

[ This week in cartoons: Mr. Magoo, Jared Kushner and the NRA ]

But the subpoena’s search for documents dating all the way back to November 2015 and its demand for documents relating to so many of Trump’s top associates “indicates just how wide a net Mueller is casting,” Paul Rosenzweig, who was a senior counsel for Kenneth W. Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton, told me today.

Bob Bauer, the former White House counsel under President Barack Obama, added in an interview with me that the subpoena may serve as a reminder of Trump’s centrality to the collusion tale.

Indeed, as Bauer noted, the publicly known facts already point to Trump’s centrality. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. eagerly held a meeting in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer fully expecting that he’d be getting dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. It has not been established whether Donald Trump knew about that meeting. But recall that Trump himself helped draft the initial statement misleading the nation about the real purpose of that meeting.

Also recall that former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon told author Michael Wolffthat, in his view, the “chance that Don Jr. did not walk” the Russians “up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.” (Bannon is one of the advisers whom the subpoena seeks documents about.)

“We have the president apparently involved in drafting a fallacious statement on behalf of Don Jr. about what actually happened in the Trump Tower meeting,” Bauer told me. “We have Bannon speculating — and I think this only stands to reason — that Don Jr. would never have arranged this meeting without his father knowing that it was coming. It is known that the Trump campaign was communicating with the Russians about help for the campaign and that Trump was personally involved in an effort to conceal information about these contacts from the public.”

[ We’re witnessing a war on public life. This is the cost. ]

“The president in particular is right in the middle of questions about Russian interference,” Bauer said.

Also recall that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos’s plea agreement with Mueller indicated that he had been informed in April 2016 that the Russians collected “dirt” on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. What’s more, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.) — the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee — has now openly stated that information gathered by the committee shows that “the Russians previewed to Papadopoulos that they could help with disseminating these stolen emails.” The question is whether Trump campaign higher-ups were told of these things — and whether Trump knew of them.

We don’t know the answer to those questions, and again, it must be stressed that Mueller may find no evidence of coordination. But the already known facts are troubling enough on their own. And it’s obvious that Mueller knows a lot more than we do.

Trump has acted methodically to hamstring the Mueller probe

Indeed, this feeds into the second way that Mueller is investigating Trump — for possible obstruction of justice. We learned last week that Mueller is closely scrutinizing Trump’s state of mind during his repeated efforts to push out Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to determine whether the goal was to replace him with someone who would better protect him from the Mueller probe (Sessions had recused himself, enraging Trump). Mueller is trying to determine whether this conduct, along with Trump’s firing of his FBI director, establishes a pattern that constitutes obstruction of justice. As I have argued, we know beyond any doubt that Trump has acted methodically, again and again and again, to constrain or derail the investigation and pulled back only after those efforts were foiled.

That particular conduct can potentially be explained by Mueller’s scrutiny of what Trump and/or his associates knew and when about Russian efforts to sabotage the election on his behalf. This confluence doesn’t prove anything, of course. But as Bauer put it to me: “Trump came into office frantic to deny any collusion with the Russians during the campaign, and from the beginning, he is apparently maneuvering to choke off an investigation by pressuring and then firing Comey, and attacking Sessions over the recusal. And so he added an obstruction inquiry to his problems.”

Beyond all this, we also know Mueller is scrutinizing whether any White House policies might have been shaped by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s business discussions with foreigners during the transition. And who knows where that might lead.

* NOTHING FROM CONGRESS ON ELECTION SECURITY: On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama’s former chief of staff accused Republicans of refusing to forcefully condemn Russian sabotage of the 2016 election. The Post adds this:

Not one congressional panel looking into the Russia probe has released a bipartisan plan for how to strengthen election security, even though the 2018 primary season begins in certain states this month. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian intervention, is expected to release recommendations later this month, though that will not mark the end of its probe.

And we have heard very little from the administration about its plans, ever since it was reported that Trump has not held a single Cabinet-level meeting on the threat of more sabotage.

* NOTHING FROM STATE DEPARTMENT ON ELECTION SECURITY: The New York Times reports that the State Department has spent none of the $120 million allotted to it for countering foreign sabotage of our elections:

As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts. The delay is just one symptom of the largely passive response to the Russian interference by President Trump.

Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?

* GOWDY: WE MAY GET ANOTHER SPECIAL COUNSEL: Some Republicans want a second special counsel to examine alleged Hillary Clinton wrongdoing in the fake Uranium One scandal, among other things. Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.), the House GOP Oversight Committee chair, told Fox News: “I think we’re trending perhaps towards another special counsel.”

We learned last fall that Sessions was evaluating whether a second special counsel is merited, obviously in response to Trump’s relentless demands that Sessions target Clinton. When are we going to hear back from Sessions on that?

* GOP UNLEASHES AD BLITZ ON TAX PLAN: The Washington Examiner reports that American Action Network, the outside group allied with House GOP leaders, is unleashing a $1 million ad blitz touting the GOP tax cuts in 24 competitive House districts:

Republicans … want voters to make a direct connection between the tax bill and accelerated job and wage growth. … AAN and its sister organization, the super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund, are investing tens of millions of dollars to improve the image of the tax bill, viewing it as the key to any success Republicans might have in holding the party’s 24-seat House majority.

But in the special election just outside Pittsburgh, Republicans have shifted away from tax-cut messaging and toward attacks over illegal immigration, suggesting the tax message may be a bust.

* STATES PRESS FORWARD WITH GUN-RIGHTS BILLS: Talking Points Memo reports that numerous states have pressed forward with bills looseningregulations on firearms in the wake of the Parkland massacre. Note this:

Even as gun control legislation remains stalled in Congress, the NRA has campaigned for 15 measures in 11 states that would further loosen gun restrictions. Among other things, the bills would strengthen existing stand-your-ground laws (Wyoming and Idaho), allow people to carry handguns without a permit (Oklahoma), and expand the list of places where people can carry guns (numerous states).

This is yet another reminder that if you want new gun regulations, you should channel some energy into Democratic efforts to win back ground on the state level.

* DACA DEADLINE IS TODAY, AND NOTHING WILL HAPPEN: Today is the day that the protections for the “dreamers” begin expiring, and CNN reports that nothing is going to happen to protect them in Congress today or in the near future:

March 23 is the next government funding deadline, and some lawmakers have suggested they may try to use the must-pass package of funding bills as a point of leverage. But sources close to the process say it’s more likely that efforts will be made to keep a bad deal out of the omnibus spending measure than to come up with a compromise to attach to it, as no solution has a clear path to passing either chamber.

The courts have put Trump’s move on hold and have ordered the restarting of the program, so today’s deadline means less. But make no mistake: The dreamers’ future is still very much in limbo.

* QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND, TRUMP-IS-A-DECISIVE LEADER EDITION: On “Meet the Press,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was pressed to say whether Trump’s decision on tariffs is final. He replied:

“Whatever his final decision is, is what will happen. … If he says something different, it’ll be something different. I have no reason to think he’s going to change. … He has made a decision at this point … If he for some reason should change his mind, then it’ll change.”

The most senior members of Trump’s administration haven’t got any earthly clue where the strong and decisive businessman president will end up.

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Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe Just Got a Lot Weirder

A mysterious Middle East fixer, the founder of Blackwater, an Emirati prince, and a secret meeting in the Seychelles are now under investigation as Robert Mueller uncovers a nexus of foreign influence on the Trump campaign.

Abigail Tracy

Last night, as the White House was dealing with the resignation of Gary Cohn and new allegations in the Stormy Daniels saga, The New York Times published a labyrinthine story centered on a man named George Nader, an adviser to the United Arab Emirates whose involvement with the Trump campaign appears to cast new light on what has been a dark frontier of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Last year, The Washington Post reported on a secret meeting between representatives for the United Arab Emirates, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and a Russian investor with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which took place on a remote Seychelles island just days before Donald Trump’sinauguration. It was unknown at the time what Prince and the Russian envoy discussed. Sources told the Post that the goal was to open a dialogue with the Russian government outside of traditional diplomatic channels. The U.A.E. reportedly agreed to broker the meeting in hopes of convincing Russia to scale back its relationship with Iran.

As we now know, the meeting was also arranged with the help of Nader, who the F.B.I. picked up at Dulles International Airport in January. According to the Times,he was immediately served with search warrants and recently testified before a grand jury. Here’s what we know about Nader, why Mueller is interested in the Trump campaign’s contacts with the U.A.E., and what the Seychelles meeting could mean for the Russia investigation.

Who is George Nader?

A Lebanese-American businessman, Nader currently serves as an adviser to Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who has developed a close relationship with Jared Kushner. For years, Nader has been a well-known, if somewhat off-the-radar, figure in certain political circles. According to the Times,Nader worked with the Bill Clinton administration in its attempt to broker a peace deal between Syria and Israel, convincing the White House that he could leverage his influential contacts with the Syrian government. After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Nader worked with Prince’s private security company, Blackwater—which is now known as Academi—as a “business-development consultant,” according to a 2010 deposition. At the time of the 2016 election, he was serving as an adviser to Prince Mohammed, and was a frequent visitor to the White House during the early months of the Trump administration, where he met with Kushner and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

How is Prince connected to Trump?

Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, never held a formal role in the Trump campaign, the transition team, or the administration, but has been a vocal supporter of Trump nonetheless. According to the Post, Prince donated $250,000 to the Trump campaign after the Republican National Convention and developed a close relationship with Bannon. The Intercept has reported that Prince later lobbied contacts inside the Trump administration to set up a private network of intelligence contractors for the C.I.A., an idea that U.S. officials and the White House appeared to reject.

When he was first asked about the Seychelles meeting, on CNN, Prince told anchor Erin Burnett that he had been there “on business” to meet with Emirati officials and that he only had a brief meeting with “some fund manager—I can’t even remember his name” over a beer. (“The meeting had nothing to do with President Trump,” a spokesman for Prince said at the time. “Why is the so-called under-resourced intelligence community messing around with surveillance of American citizens when they should be hunting terrorists?”)

Why is Mueller interested in Nader?

Nader appears to have been a key player in the Seychelles meeting, whose attendees included Nader, Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev, the Russian investor with ties to Putin. Nader reportedly arranged the meeting on behalf of Prince Mohammed, while Prince allegedly served as a Trump transition envoy, and Dmitriev was there representing the Kremlin. According to the Times, Mueller has also asked witnesses about any attempts by the Emirates, through Nader, to buy political influence by supporting the Trump campaign, suggesting that the special prosecutor is examining the influence of foreign money on the president and his policies. The investigation could shed light on the Trump administration’s decision to back the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia in the blockade of Qatar—a critical U.S. military ally in the Middle East—which broke with decades of American foreign policy and put the president at odds with his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.

According to CNN, Mueller is also interested in a Nader’s presence at a December 2016 meeting in New York, between the crown prince and members of the Trump campaign, including Bannon and Kushner. The Obama administration was not made aware of the meeting—an unusual breach of diplomatic protocol for travel involving a high-level foreign official.

What’s the deal with Dmitriev?

Dmitriev is the C.E.O. of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, one of several official sovereign wealth funds tied to the Russian government. R.D.I.F., which invests public money in private projects, was targeted by the Obama administration in 2014 when the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia. Until recently, R.D.I.F. was a subsidiary of Vnesheconombank, the Russian bank whose C.E.O., Sergey Gorkov, met with Kushner during the transition.

According to the Times, Abu Dhabi committed to invest $6 billion in Dmitriev’s fund after Prince Mohammed met with Putin 2013. Dmitriev subsequently became a “frequent visitor” to Abu Dhabi, and was seen by Emirati officials as a direct conduit to Putin.

What has Prince said about the Seychelles meeting?

During his congressional testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last December, Prince came under fire from Democrats over the meeting. While Prince dismissed the narrative that he acted as a Trump envoy, he did concede that Bannon had informed him of Prince Mohammed’s 2016 New York meeting before the Seychelles encounter. When pressed by Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Prince denied that either meeting had anything to do with the Russians. “The Emiratis I’d just met with previously said, ‘There’s an interesting guy from Russia you should meet, if you have any business in the commodity space,’ which I do,” Prince said. “I look at minerals and oil and gas. He said, ‘You should meet him. So I met him in the bar and had a drink.’” Schiff was reportedly unpersuaded.

So what does this mean for Trump?

The revelation that Nader is cooperating with Mueller suggests that the special prosecutor is continuing to dig into the foreign and financial ties of the Trump family. Last week, CNN reported that Mueller had opened lines of inquiry into Trump’s Russian business ties, including the timing of his decision to run for office, the funding of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and the failed Trump Tower Moscow deal. Kushner has come under similar scrutiny, according to NBC News. Federal investigators have reportedly questioned witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real-estate properties from representatives of Qatar, Turkey, Russia, China, and the United Arab Emirates. The Post reported that at least four countries have discussed leveraging his political inexperience and the financial troubles of Kushner Cos., which recently received two loans totaling more than $500 million after Kushner met with the lenders’ executives in the White House. (Kushner and Kushner Cos. have denied any wrongdoing.)

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Robert Mueller reportedly has evidence the Trump transition team tried to establish a secret Kremlin back channel

Special counsel Robert Mueller has quietly gathered evidence that a Donald Trump associate met with a Russian official shortly before the president’s inauguration to create a back-channel between the Kremlin and the incoming White House administration, according to a report.

Erik Prince, the founder of controversial private military contractor Blackwater USA, met with an official close to Russian President Vladimir Putin last January in the Seychelles, the small island off the eastern coast of Africa, several people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

One of the witnesses cooperating with Mueller’s probe has told investigators that Prince, 48, set up the meeting in order to discuss future relations between Washington and Moscow, serving as a de facto representative for Trump’s transition team.

Prince was never officially part of Trump’s transition, but frequently communicated with its members and served as an unofficial representative for it, according to investigators. He’s also the younger brother of Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The revelation could land Prince in trouble, as he has previously testified before Congress that he attended the Seychelles meeting as a businessman, not as a representative of the Trump administration. He also testified that he randomly encountered the Russian official, Kirill Dmitriev, and that their meeting had not been planned beforehand.

George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman who helped organize and attended the Seychelles meeting, has testified on the matter before a grand jury gathering evidence about discussions between the Trump transition team and emissaries of the Kremlin, as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.

Nader began cooperating with Mueller after he arrived at Dulles Airport in mid-January and was stopped, served with a subpoena and questioned by the FBI, these people said. He has met numerous times with investigators.

Trump claims his administration has no ties to the Kremlin and frequently blasts the notion that his campaign colluded with Russians as a “hoax” cooked up by vengeful Democrats.

Prince could not be reached for comment. When reached by the New York Daily News late Wednesday, White House lawyer Ty Cobb declined to comment “out of respect for the legal process and the Special Counsel’s Office.”

Also Wednesday, it was revealed that Trump recently approached two key witnesses cooperating with Mueller about what they told investigators, breaking with the advice of his lawyers.

Mueller recently learned that Trump asked his ex-chief of staff, Reince Priebus, how his special counsel interview had gone and whether the investigators had been “nice” to him, two people familiar with the discussion told The New York Times.

In a second instance, Trump directed White House counsel Donald McGahn to draft a statement pushing back against reports that he had asked for Mueller’s firing, the sources said. But McGahn declined to draft the statement, reminding Trump that he did in fact once ask him to see to it that Mueller be booted.

While the episodes likely do not amount to witness tampering, Trump’s insistence on approaching Mueller’s witnesses about their testimony could give the appearance that he’s attempting to interfere.

One aspect of Mueller’s sweeping probe is whether Trump obstructed justice by firing ex-FBI Director James Comey. Legal experts say that Trump might be playing with fire by giving off the appearance that he is inquisitive about Mueller’s witnesses, as the special counsel could use that as supplementary evidence of obstruction.

The Washington Post contributed.

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This thread sure died, ain't nobody posted since Tuesday.

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Mueller tight-lipped as media leaks shape Russia narrative

Leaked glimpses of special counsel Robert Mueller's activities tell an incomplete story, angering some Trump associates — but likely serving the purposes of others.

DARREN SAMUELSOHN

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his prosecutors aren’t talking to the media, but still the leaks keep coming. 

In the past two weeks, anonymously sourced news reports have said the top federal Russia investigator is preparing to indict Russians for hacking Democratic emails in 2016; focusing on why one of President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyers was in talks about a Moscow real estate deal during the campaign; asking questions about Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s business dealings; and probing whether the United Arab Emirates improperly sought to influence Trump White House policy.

Through it all, Mueller has said nothing in public — so far speaking only with indictments, like last month’s charges against Russian nationals accused of election interference, that had not been foreshadowed in the media.

That’s a textbook stance for a prosecutor who must avoid tipping off potential targets or wrongly incriminating people. But the former FBI director’s no-comment policyhas also created an powerful information vacuum, one being filled by witnesses, lawyers and others who have caught glimpses of his advancing probe, and who feed the media selective details that serve their personal agendas — but which may or may not accurately reflect Mueller’s main avenues of inquiry.

"What makes leaks and false leads so pernicious is that those doing them know a professional and ethical prosecutor cannot and will not be able to correct the record each and every time,” said Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, who insists that recent leaks have unfairly suggested that Mueller is closing in on his client.

“That leaves those with improper motives — and who are often violating the law or rules governing investigations — the freedom to do the mischief they intend,” Lowell added.

Such complaints serve Lowell’s own purposes, of course, and Kushner may well face serious legal jeopardy. But it is impossible to tell from reports alleging that Mueller is pursuing a certain avenue of inquiry, like Kushner’s finances, whether he is vigorously closing in on a target — or simply running down every lead.

Legal experts said Mueller likely finds the deluge of leaks irksome, but also an inevitable part of his job.

“I’m sure that the special counsel’s office is not pleased to see matters that are relevant to their investigation spinning out of control in the press,” said Melinda Haag, a former federal prosecutor who worked with Mueller when he was a U.S. attorney in the late 1990s. “But I’m guessing they don’t view it as their job to try to manage that.”

Mueller has shown he’s determined to avoid leaks on his own. High-profile visitors are whisked into the special counsel’s Washington headquarters from a heavily guarded underground garage, out of sight of the TV cameras camped out on the sidewalks below. Before being dismissed, witnesses are admonished not to talk about their visits.

So far, Mueller has only spoken to the public through court documents bearing his signature and those of his deputy prosecutors. A motion filed last summer to keep sealed the charges against former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulous explained the reasoning. Public disclosure “may alert other subjects to the direction and status of the investigation,” Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky wrote, and prompt them to “destroy or conceal incriminating evidence.”

Several of the attorneys representing clients mired in the Russia probe told POLITICO they appreciate Mueller’s no-comment policy.

“Mueller is doing it the right way,” said one lawyer. “The most important thing he’s trying to do is create trust and trust that people who give him information know that it is not going to be leaked.” 

Lowell argued that the media abets sources who take advantage of the special counsel’s refusal to issue even simple confirmations or denials.

“Unfortunately, the media are all too willing partners in this arrangement often encouraging this conduct and providing cover to these leakers by giving them attributions that make it impossible for there to be accountability,” Lowell said.

Stephen Ryan, the personal attorney for Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, took issue this week with the media coverage surrounding his client. A Tuesday Washington Post story said the special counsel is examining Cohen’s role in a proposed Trump Tower Moscow project and in a January 2017 effort to deliver a Ukrainian lawmaker’s Ukraine-Russia peace plan to the incoming Trump administration.

Ryan insists that Cohen faces no specific legal jeopardy from Mueller. “Unsourced innuendo like this succeeds only because the leakers know the special counsel will not respond to set the record straight,” he said. 

There’s little Mueller can do to stymie leaks about his methods. Regular press briefings are a nonstarter, veteran law enforcement officials say, and providing statements on a case-by-case basis is an imperfect solution.

If Mueller’s office were to deny even one story, failure to refute others could be interpreted as tacit confirmation.

Veteran journalist Steven Brill, who in 1998 notched the first on-the-record interview with independent counsel Kenneth Starr more than four years into his investigation of President Bill Clinton, said Mueller is doing a service to everyone involved by not speaking to reporters or by leaking information in other ways. (Starr controversially admitted to Brill that he’d been giving background details to the media. It’s impossible to rule out that Mueller has had similar contact with reporters, but there is no evidence of it and longtime associates call it highly unlikely.)

“Because he’s stayed out of the press and hasn’t tried to defend himself, he comes off as more credible,” Brill said. Mueller’s approach also benefits the investigation’s trajectory.

“The power of Mueller’s work is that everything he does is a complete surprise,” he said. “Therefore it has more impact on the people he’s trying to scare or maybe trying to impress into responding to him.”

Mueller also knows he can’t control witnesses once they leave his office. That was evident in the Monday spectacle of former Trump political adviser Sam Nunberg, who openly discussed his interactions with Mueller’s team — even sharing a copy of a recent subpoena for his communications with the president and other inner-circle Trump aides. It was the most candid discussion to date by any witness of his or her dealings with Mueller’s office.

In light of Nunberg’s behavior, Haag said the special counsel and his prosecutors are likely reassessing their interactions with future witnesses.

“They might think long and hard about each potential interview and decide what the chances are of this person doing what Mr. Nunberg has done and decide whether the interview is important enough to take that risk,” she said.

Making sure each witness has a lawyer who can advise against leaking helps, she said. But even there, Nunberg demonstrated on Monday that may not matter. The former Trump aide repeatedly told reporters that he was speaking publicly without giving his attorney any warning he would speak out.

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Don’t know what JB’s post says and don’t care!

Just going to leave this here. Jobs report for Feb came out this morning. 

Feb job report. 313,000 jobs added 

Wage growth up 2.6% 

Unemployment rate. 4.1%  
 

#MAGA

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Confirmed - Mueller is a White Nationalist Grand Wizard.

USA Today

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On 3/6/2018 at 7:06 AM, SaintRay said:

JB with another bulge in his pants this morning dreaming about Mueller.

More of a very small wrinkle

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Week 42: Mueller’s Probe Reaches Distant Shores

A meeting of 'princes' and a wealthy Russian in a remote island nation stretches the boundaries of the Trump investigation.

JACK SHAFER
 

Robert Mueller is pictured. | AP Photo

Gerald Herbert/AP Photo

Unspooling like a sedate Mission Impossible sequel, this week the Trump Tower scandal rolled back to January 2017 and splashed down in the Indian Ocean. Doors opened and closed at a beachside hotel in the Seychelles islands where a furtive meeting of a Lebanese-American fixer who specializes in the Middle East, an American mercenary leader, and a Russian moneyman with a Harvard MBA went down. According to Google Maps, it’s a 19-hour, 8,641-mile flight from the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s office in Washington, D.C.’s southwest quadrant to the tiny island nation. That the meeting has drawn scrutiny shows a willingness on Mueller’s part to extend his reach to places and time periods that the original directive for his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign only hints at. Think of him as a non-super version of Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic, awesomely powerful, wildly elastic. 

According to a New York Times report, the fixer of the Seychelles assignation, George Nader, convened the meeting at the behest of United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The mercenary, Erik Prince of Blackwater fame, is believed to have been Donald Trump’s proxy. And the Russian, Kirill Dmitriev, is thought to have stood in for Vladimir Putin. Now, before you drop the needle onto your vinyl copy of Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission Impossible Theme,” keep in mind that Nader once worked for Erik Prince (brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos) and would later befriend Trump White House advisers. Got your headphones on? Cue the track and continue reading.

What was the Seychelles meeting about? I’m relieved to say that it was mercifully free of motorcycle chases, men clinging to the outside of airborne planes, fireball explosions, or the other clichés of a Mission Impossible scenario. According to Prince, this scene was a chance encounter that led to a drink. Everybody just happened to be in the Seychelles! It was like bumping into a colleague in Central Park and making a new friend! But a Mueller witness—one who conforms to a description of Nader, who is now cooperating with the special counsel—says the meeting was scheduled in advance so that a Trump proxy could meet a Putin proxy and establish a secret back-channel to steer relations between the two countries. 

According to the New York Times, Mueller and company have asked Nader if the Emiratis purchased influence from Trump during the campaign with cash. That would violate campaign finance laws. “The focus on Mr. Nader could also prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era,” the newspaper continues. 

Mueller’s all-seeing ways must unnerve Trump associates. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the bank that notified authorities of the “suspicious” nature of Michael Cohen’s wire transfer of $130,000 to adult film actor Stormy Daniels. That payment may have broken campaign finance laws. Was Mueller behind its discovery? The Journal implied as much with this sentence: “It is unclear whether Mr. Mueller’s office I love hairy cocks the bank inquiry in this case.”

The Seychelles meeting invites further inspection of Nader, who seems to possess a backstory that merits a spin-off from the Trump Tower scandal universe with his own starring role. In 1985, he was indicted on obscenity charges but beat the rap. Soon after that, he met with Iran’s supreme religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini, leaders of the Afghan mujaheddin, and a ranking member of Hezbollah. He even worked as the editor of Middle East Insight. In recent years Nader, however, has grown clubby with the Trumpies. According to news accounts, Nader attended a December 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Al-Nahyan and Trump advisers. The coziness extended to several visits to the White House early in the administration’s early days, as Nader met with first-son-in-law Jared Kushner and former chief strategist Steve Bannon. 

As if a reminder were needed, the Nader story points us back to the Trump Tower scandal’s origins, awash as it is with sessions between Trumpies and Russkies that raise suspicions as thick as ticks on a coon dog. Kushner had a met with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak in Trump Tower just after the election to explore a back-channel arrangement. Days later, Kushner huddled with a Russian banker affiliated with Putin to discuss yet another back-channel—this one with Putin. You recall, of course, that Michael Flynn, Trump’s original national security adviser, lied about his own secretive talks with the Russian ambassador, and those conversations truncated his tenure in that post. The New York Times reported this week that Dmitriev, the Russian from the Seychelles rendezvous, met with Trump associate Anthony Scaramucci at the 2017 Davos forum, after which Scaramucci criticized the Obama administration sanctions on Russia with a TASS reporter. 

And while we’re loitering in the Trump Tower, let’s mention the news broken this week in an excerpt from Russian Roulette, David Corn and Michael Isikoff’s book on the scandal. Emin Agalarov (son to Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov) and Rob Goldstone (go-between for the Russians-pushing-Hillary Clinton “dirt” meeting in Trump Tower, a meeting Bannon called “treasonous”) met with Donald Trump in his Trump Tower office in January 2015. The future president was listening to an insulting rap video about himself. “Have you listened to the words?” Goldstone asked. “Who cares about the words?” Trump responded. “It has 90 million hits on YouTube.” 

By Friday, intermittent Trump political aide Sam Nunberg had sung for Mueller’s grand jury despite the defiant noise he spewed during his pub crawl from cable show to cable show. According to the Washington Post, Nunberg happened to be laboring for the big man in Trump Tower around the time Emin and Ron paid the visit that Corn and Isikoff document. I wonder if Sam bumped into Emin and Ron. I also wonder if they, like so many, have come to think of the garish building as a crime scene. 

******

Google Maps provides no driving directions to the Seychelles. Call an Uber for me and send it to Shafer.Politico@gmail.com at 1000 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, Va. My email alerts kayak, my Twitter feed paddleboards, but my RSS feed swims.

Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer.

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Where have all our heroes gone? Where are they who sacrificed lives and careers for the welfare of others, who fought for a country to survive the onslaught of the world? Certainly not for personal glory or self-fulfilling, narcissistic aims.

Were they left on the battlefield, unsung, unheralded, now forgotten? Were they ensconced in our pages of history, entombed in countless chronicles, unread by millions, left in libraries on countless shelves gathered in dust?

Perhaps one has re-emerged, the Emile Zola of our times, the world-acclaimed author who brought down the French Army in the 19th century, risking reputation, fame and fortune for the sake of honor, truth, and finally, justice. His heroics, successfully defying the government, made him a French citizen of the ages.

Special counsel Robert Mueller may be that man, battle hardened, politically stiffened — and American — on the brink of repeating history, adamantly opposed by his own political party and millions of the supporting base of this administration.

Isn’t this the stuff heroes are made of? Future writers, authors and historians may show him either a villain or hero. It depends on the direction this country will take. After all, isn’t history recorded by victors of all conquests?

— James D. Cook, Schaumburg

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Why Mueller Might Delay Filing Obstruction Charges in His Trump-Russia Investigation

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice is said to be close to completion, but he may set it aside while he finishes other key parts of his probe, such as possible collusion and the hacking of Democrats, according to current and former U.S. officials.

That’s because Mueller may calculate that if he tries to bring charges in the obstruction case — the part that may hit closest to Trump personally — witnesses may become less cooperative in other parts of the probe, or the president may move to shut it down altogether.

The revelation is a peek into Mueller’s calculations as he proceeds with his many-headed probe, while pressure builds from the president’s advisers and other Republicans to show progress or wrap it up.

The obstruction portion of the probe could likely be completed after several key outstanding interviews, including with the president and his son, Donald Trump Jr. The president’s lawyers have been negotiating with Mueller’s team over such an encounter since late last year. But even if Trump testifies in the coming weeks, Mueller may make a strategic calculation to keep his findings on obstruction secret, according to the current and former U.S. officials, who discussed the strategy on condition of anonymity.

Any clear outcome of the obstruction inquiry could be used against Mueller: Filing charges against Trump or his family could prompt the president to take action to fire him. Publicly clearing Trump of obstruction charges — as the president’s lawyers have requested — could be used by his allies to build pressure for the broader investigation to be shut down.

Other key matters under investigation by Mueller’s team, with its 17 career prosecutors, include whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia meddle in the 2016 campaign. Mueller is also expected to indict some of those responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee before the election and publicly leaking stolen material in an effort to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The timing for whether — and when — to interview Trump or his family members is one of the most sensitive decisions Mueller faces at this stage of his investigation. The special counsel’s office declined to comment for this story.

Trump, who has branded the probe a “witch hunt,” is growing increasingly frustrated as Mueller’s work continues, and the president’s lawyers have signaled that they expect the investigation to wrap up quickly.

Expansive, Aggressive

Recent reports provide a glimpse into how expansive and aggressive Mueller’s investigation is. The New York Times and Washington Post, for example, suggest Muller’s team recently began probing efforts by the United Arab Emirates to influence the Trump team, including a meeting the Gulf kingdom apparently helped organize in the Seychelles where an informal Trump adviser also met with a Russian banker.

The Post also reported that Mueller has been asking about several Russia-related incidents involving longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, including his role in trying to help the Trump Organization build a tower in Moscow in 2015.

When it comes to the obstruction portion of the investigation, Mueller is said to be focused on three main episodes: Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey last May; the drafting of a misleading statement about the purpose of a June 2016 meeting between Don Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and a group of Russians at Trump Tower; and the disclosure that Trump considered firing Mueller last June.

Mueller’s team of FBI agents and prosecutors has already interviewed people who could provide firsthand knowledge of possible obstruction of justice, including Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Millions of Pages

Mueller also has turned Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, into a cooperating witness. He has interviewed more than four dozen White House and campaign aides and requested more than 1.4 million pages of documents, according to Trump’s lawyers.

Kushner spoke to Mueller early on in the investigation for a limited interview, while Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter who’s also an adviser, have yet to be interviewed, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

There is also no indication that Mueller has yet interviewed Trump’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller, who was at Trump’s side on a trip to Moscow and during each day of the campaign and his presidency until he resigned over the summer. When Trump moved to fire Comey, Schiller hand-delivered the note to the FBI.

Here are three of the main episodes Mueller is investigating on a potential obstruction of justice:

Weekend in Bedminster

One focus for Mueller is a rainy weekend that Trump and top aides spent holed up at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, shortly before Comey was fired. Trump stayed out of public view the entire weekend. While the White House released little information about his activities except to say he had “meetings and calls,” it’s clear Trump and his advisers were discussing Comey’s fate.

Traveling with Trump that weekend was then-Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland, a Flynn ally; senior adviser Stephen Miller; then-White House communications director Hope Hicks, social media director Dan Scavino; Kushner; and Ivanka Trump.

That Sunday morning in Bedminster, Trump publicly aired his frustrations on the Russia probe, tweeting: “Why did the Obama Administration start an investigation into the Trump Campaign (with zero proof of wrongdoing) long before the Election in November? Wanted to discredit so Crooked H would win. Unprecedented. Bigger than Watergate! Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling.”

Late that day, Trump flew back to Washington with staff and his daughter and son-in-law. After landing at Andrews Air Force Base, he spent more than 40 minutes on the tarmac before deplaning, an unusually long time. When he did exit Air Force One, Kushner told reporters “everything is good, he was working on something.”

Less than 12 hours later, Trump woke the next morning and began venting again about the investigation. He wrote six Twitter posts attacking the probe, three of them aimed at former acting Attorney General Sally Yates. “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?” one of them read. Trump fired Comey the next day.

Don Jr.’s Statement

Mueller also has been prodding witnesses about the crafting of the misleading statement by Trump Jr. to the New York Times concerning the meeting with Russians at Trump Tower in Manhattan. Mueller interviewed the former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, Mark Corallo, after the release of author Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury, which said Corallo believed the crafting of the statement could amount to obstruction of justice.

The statement — crafted aboard Air Force One by Trump, Hicks and Kushner spokesman Josh Raffel and relayed to Trump Jr. — portrayed the meeting as being mostly about Russian adoptions. Emails later released by Trump Jr. showed an organizer told him the Russians would produce damaging information on Clinton. The White House has said of the statement that Trump “weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had,” while on a return trip from Germany.

Corallo told investigators that in a phone call with Hicks and Trump raising concern about the statement Hicks insisted the emails would “never get out,” which Corallo found deeply naive, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Firing Mueller

The third main area Mueller is probing for potential obstruction involves Trump’s desire to fire Mueller. Trump became enraged with Sessions when he recused himself from anything to do with the Russia investigation, a decision that continues to rankle the president. After Trump fired Comey, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel.

Trump wanted to fire Mueller in June, three people familiar with the matter said, raising concern among his top aides and closest supporters that Trump would put himself in legal jeopardy. Trump ultimately relented after White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to carry out the order and made clear he’d resign rather than acquiesce.

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The Secret of Robert Mueller’s Waiting Game

Is the special counsel slow-walking part of his investigation in order to bring more damning charges?

Abigail Tracy
 

Robert Mueller

Mueller photographed leaving a meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in June of last year.

By Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Far from wrapping up his investigation, as Donald Trump’s lawyers hoped against hope he might do last Thanksgiving, Robert Mueller may be delaying indictments in his obstruction of justice case in order to bring broader, more damning charges of collusion. For the last several months, Mueller has been asking witnesses about three key events in the Russia probe: Trump’s decision to fire James Comey, his involvement in the drafting of a misleading statement about his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower, and his efforts to fire Mueller last summer. As Bloomberg reports, there are only a handful of people left for Mueller to interview, including Ivanka Trump and Don Jr., Trump’s former body man Keith Schiller, and, if he’ll go willingly, the president himself.

Mueller, however, appears to be slow-walking that portion of the investigation, and for good reason. Current and former U.S. officials told Bloomberg that Mueller is concerned that an obstruction case would be politicized by Trump and his allies to hurt the ongoing F.B.I. probe. It would be harder to prove without first securing evidence of an underlying crime. Future witnesses may prove more reluctant to speak with him. And, of course, there’s always the chance that Trump will buck the reins—as he has been wont to do of late—and fire Mueller altogether. Conversely, the special counsel reportedly fears that publicly clearing Trump of obstruction could have a similar effect, giving Republicans cover to call for the probe to be shut down.

So far, Mueller has successfully tread a delicate line in pursuing the case. As special counsel, he was given a broad mandate to investigate any wrongdoing discovered in the course of his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. As we know, that inquiry has already strayed far afield, sweeping up potential targets from Moscow to Virginia to the United Arab Emirates. Just last week, reports emergedthat Mueller is probing a mysterious island rendezvous involving a Middle East fixer, an Emirati prince, and the founder of Blackwater, who reportedly discussed setting up a backchannel between the incoming Trump administration and Putin. And after indicting 13 Russian nationals earlier this year for conspiracy and fraud, Mueller is still expected to bring charges against those responsible for hacking Democratic National Committee e-mails, as well as the e-mail account of Hillary Clintoncampaign chairman John Podesta.

Yet there appears to be a strategy to Mueller’s order of operations. By indicting the Russians first, Mueller insulated his investigation from accusations of bias, undercutting the Trumpworld claim that the probe was orchestrated by political enemies of the president. Republicans were relieved to see only foreign agents targeted and cheered the charges, bolstering Mueller’s position. As William Jeffress, a D.C.-based white-collar defense attorney told me earlier this year, the indictments against the Russians made it “a lot harder for anyone to say that Mueller is on a witch hunt,” as they demonstrated that the special counsel “has obviously worked very hard and collected a lot of evidence and brought what seem to be some very credible charges having to deal with meddling by Russian nationals in the campaign.”

It is impossible to know exactly what is going on inside Mueller’s virtually leak-free investigative unit. Still, what we’ve seen suggests the special counsel is moving methodically toward Trump’s inner circle. So far, Mueller has primarily focused on indicting Russians (who will likely never set foot in America) and people accused of potentially unrelated crimes (Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Mike Flynn), giving the White House room to breathe. If Mueller has a bombshell, he’ll presumably wait to drop it until he has the evidence necessary to make his case undeniable. By that time, too, the political calculus may have changed—if Democrats take back the House in November, Mueller’s next chess move would face fewer headwinds. And, potentially, impel Congress to bring charges of its own.

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Report: Mueller May Set Aside Obstruction Portion of Trump Investigation

12-robert-muller.w710.h473.jpg
Wily. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Bloomberg reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may temporarily cast aside the obstruction of justice section of his investigation in order to prevent witnesses in the ongoing inquiry from ceasing to cooperate — and to ward off against the president trying to end it altogether.

According to several anonymous current and former U.S. officials, Mueller may instead focus, for now, on other areas of the investigation into election interference, such as possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, a charge the president has vociferously denied.

Mueller has reportedly almost wrapped up the obstruction phase of the investigation, but his team is still negotiating to conduct interviews with key figures, including Donald Trump Jr. and the president himself. Those conversations would likely cover some of the incidents that may rise to the level of obstruction, which include the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey last May.

The president’s legal team, fearful that Trump will incriminate himself and/or ramble unhelpfully, has been increasingly cool to the idea of a sit-down, and have begun floating nigh-on-impossible conditions for such a tête-à-tête. Last week, his lawyers floated the (comic) notion of agreeing to a presidential interview if Mueller promised to wrap up the portion of his investigation dealing directly with the president within 60 days.

Bloomberg reports that even if Trump does testify, Mueller may keep the testimony under his hat for the time being, instead pursuing the many other threads his team of prosecutors is attempting to unravel.

The investigation has branched well beyond questions of obstruction of justice and collusion. Mueller’s team has indicted 13 Russians accused of interfering in the 2016 election; charged Rick Gates and Paul Manafort with various counts related to overseas money laundering; busted the ex-national security adviser and now-cooperating witness Michael Flynn for making false statements to the FBI; and more.

The insight into Mueller’s thinking is rare. His team of investigators has become known for its cone of silence, which is unusual even for the most sensitive matters in Washington. Whether the apparently telegraphed strategy makes it more or less likely for Trump and his team to cooperate — or to do something drastic — is tough to say.

Talk of Trump attempting to fire the special counsel has died down somewhat in recent months after hitting a peak last summer, when the president reportedly tried to actually make it happen, then backed down after White House Counsel Don McGahn refused. (This incident itself is another focus of the obstruction of justice phase of the investigation.)

But after a concerted effort to trick Trump into believing that the investigation would wrap up any minute now, Trump’s personal lawyer Ty Cobb may be on his way out of the administration, and his legal team as a whole seems to be getting  increasingly desperate. This state of affairs may leave the president even less constrained than usual if he feels the investigation is getting too close to him.

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